•Dogs are a product of artificial selection which has led to a high prevalence of play.•Dog play seems to function mainly to develop motor skills and for social cohesion.•Context defines the differing functions and welfare implications of play.•Play behaviour is neither a reliable, nor generalisable, positive welfare indicator in dogs.•Play can improve welfare through self-reward, positive experiences, or social bonding.
Applied Animal Behaviour Science – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2017
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